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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  September 12, 2012 4:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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president visiting the state department today in light of these killings. >> well, people are deeply moved. this was an ambassador well-known here and well-liked. and there are a lot of people that have stories about him. it's been a hard day here in d.c. >> absolutely. justice correspondent joe johns, we appreciate it, sir. thank you very much. i'm don lemon, appreciate you watching here today. i'll be back here tomorrow. wolf, of course brooke is doing the morning show. i'll be here. now it's time for "the situation room" and mr. wolf blitzer. don, thanks very much. happening now, sources tell cnn the attack that killed four americans including the top u.s. diplomat in libya was planned in advance. we're also talking with the people behind the controversial anti-muslim film igniting protests that the attackers may have used for cover. we're also watching an important political dimension to this story. mitt romney's immediate criticism of president obama's international policies. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."
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dramatic developments unfolding. let's begin with some important new developments in the attacks on u.s. facilities in both cairo, egypt. and benghazi, libya. u.s. sources now tell cnn the attack in benghazi was actually planned in advance and the perpetrators used a protest outside the u.s. consulate in benghazi there simply as a diversion. four americans died including the united states ambassador to libya chris stevens. our foreign affairs correspondent, jill dougherty, has been working her sources to get a better idea on exactly what happened. our senior international correspondent nic robertson is monitoring the search for who's
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responsible. and our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence is keeping tabs on the u.s. military's response to what's going on as well. let's go to jill first. she's watching what's going on. jill, what's the latest over at the state department beyond the heartbreak of a top u.s. diplomat, three others killed? >> right, wolf. just in a few minutes we're expecting an update, a briefing on background by senior officials here at the state department. but for now this is what we know based on the conversations and what we are hearing from u.s. officials. tuesday night at the u.s. consulate in benghazi, a complex and highly dangerous situation. outside an anti-american protest. then a group of heavily armed militants, approximately two dozen of them, launched an attack firing rocket propelled grenades. >> the attack in libya is -- appears to be a very coordinated military-style attack. this was not a demonstration gone bad.
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this was a clear, targeted, planned event. >> reporter: according to senior u.s. officials, that ignited a fire inside the consulate. american and libyan security personnel officials say we're forced to fight on two fronts. the attackers on the outside, the fire inside. diplomatic sources are beginning to piece together what happened next. officials tell cnn ambassador chris stevens in benghazi on a short visit from the capital tripoli along with sean smith, a ten-year veteran of the state department in libya on temporary assignment took refuge in a safe room along with a lead security officer. but the room became filled with smoke. the officer left the room they say, when he returned smith was dead. ambassador stevens was missing. one official says stevens and possibly others were trying to escape to the roof. the ambassador, he tells cnn, ultimately succumb to smoke
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inhalation. in the chaos consulate staff attempted to enter the building to try and find and save the men. secretary of state hillary clinton praised the libyans who she said helped fight off the attackers and carried ambassador stevens' body to the hospital. >> this was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of libya. >> reporter: at this point, state department officials believe the attack was planned in advance but do not believe ambassador stevens was directly targeted. nicholas burns, a former top state department official tells cnn u.s. diplomats are facing an incendiary situation in the middle east. >> the cruel irony here is that the united states is well-regarded in libya. and there's a moderate government in place. and this is clearly the actions of an isolated and very small but very vicious terrorist group. and so we've got to protect ourselves from those groups. and we've got to go after them.
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>> reporter: and, wolf, as i said, we're expecting momentarily a briefing background here at the state department. there are a lot of details. everyone that we talk to says that it was a very, very complex almost chaotic situation. fighting on the outside. fire on the inside. and so we expect to have more details as we go along. >> and so far we've only been told the names of chris stephens and sean smith. the other two they have not released their names yet, is that right? >> yes. they were security officials. >> not u.s. marines though? >> reporter: no. we understand were not marines. they were security personnel. >> let us know what happens at this background briefing you're about to get. and you'll update our viewers. standby for that. jill dougherty. let's go to nic robertson now in london for more on who may have been behind these attacks. nic has spent a lot of time in libya as all of our viewers know. nic, as you heard, initial reports indicated a mob got out
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of control. but now it's looking more like a pretty sophisticated assassination plot in the works for a long time whach. what are you hearing? >> reporter: wolf, we still can't say with certain knowledge precisely who was responsible. but we do know last year the head of al qaeda sent a top libyan jihadist trusted lieutenant from afghanistan to libya to set up an al qaeda camp. we know from libyan government officials whom i met with in june there that they've been monitoring those camps. but they don't have the power, they don't have the security structure to close those camps down. when the consulate was targeted and attacked on june 5th this year, the group left behind fliers saying that this was a revenge attack for the united states drone attack in the afghan/pakistan border region killing al qaeda's number two at the time, abu yahya al libi.
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al qaeda's leader issued a video statement saying that abut ya ya ali by was dead and calling on libyans to attack and kill americans. so there is a correlation here that al qaeda perhaps -- has definitely established camps and perhaps has had a role in this particular attack. it's not possible to say that. but we do know that they are operating in that part of libya, wolf. >> and yesterday when i spoke to mike rogers, the chairman of the house intelligence committee, he told me he has been briefed that there is an al qaeda presence, not only in libya but in tunisia as well. how significant, unclear right now. but it sounds like that al qaeda operation in libya is very, very real indeed. all of this suggests to me, nic, that the attack yesterday on the u.s. ambassador and other americans on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 was not
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necessarily simply a coincidence. what are you hearing about that? >> reporter: it definitely doesn't seem to be a coincidence, wolf. i mean, the indications point to the fact that this group has been prepared. the concern has been -- we've been reporting this since the beginning of the year, even naming some of the al qaeda members. one a former git mo detainee. they have space to operate inside libya because the libyans can't close them down. libyan officials say that u.s. drones have been monitoring those camps at least since june this year. but the problem that faces the libyan authorities they say is that they can only have been sort of able to monitor the activity of these groups. and these groups have grown stronger. not just in the east of the country but spreading throughout the region. and that's been al qaeda's strategy to try to take advantage of this arab spring
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where there isn't strong security, put down roots. and the analysts have been telling us that the attacks they feared were going to be al qaeda. not attacking libyans inside lib libya, but attacking western interests using libya because it's close to europe as a base to attack, europe, western interests inside europe, wolf. >> explains why the u.s. now reducing diplomatically presence in benghazi as well as in the capital of tripoli. nic robertson, thanks very much. chris lawrence is joining us now. he's got the latest on how the u.s. military is responding to this unfortunate situation in libya. and the potential for a whole lot more trouble. what are you learning, chris? >> reporter: wolf, we can now confirm that that u.s. marine quick reaction force has landed in libya. and they are now on the ground in tripoli. also, the pentagon has notified some american troops around the world that in the coming days, they may be moved also to american embassies in different
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parts of the world to try to beef up security for the american diplomats working abroad. the u.s. is in a fast reaction force of 50 marines to libya to "help with security and possible evacuations if needed." insurgents attacked the same u.s. mission in benghazi back in june. and now a former u.s. counter terrorism official says new countermeasures will have to be put in place. >> the location where the diplomatic facility was was not your normal embassy with heightened security. >> reporter: fred burton is a former special agent with that same diplomatic security service. he says the marines will work with agents to coordinate a security plan for americans still in libya, especially around benghazi. >> the agents with the diplomatic security service, they're not working a vacuum. they would be working in tandem with the host government to make
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sure that the routes of travel for the u.s. ambassador is secure. >> reporter: other former u.s. officials say marines are normally posted in a capital like tripoli with the main u.s. diplomatic mission. >> there aren't that many marines in the world that could cover every single post. and in the end, again, benghazi was the part of the country where the rebels were most supportive of american involvement in libya. >> reporter: a senior defense official confirms the u.s. has been flying surveillance drone missions over libya for some time. and that libyan officials were aware of the flights. now he says that mission will be more focused on finding the specific insurgent cell responsible. the information will be passed onto libyan officials who would presumably go after them on the ground. but libya's leaders don't completely control the east. >> the government should -- the government has the possibility to count on some of the militias or forces to attack a cell.
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but they do not have the strength to counterattack a larger group. >> reporter: he expects that to launch an attack on libyan officials in an attempt to bring down the government. >> the killing of the u.s. ambassador is a huge event, but may not be the last one. >> reporter: so, again, to bring you up to date, the u.s. marines quick reaction force is on the ground there in tripoli. and the pentagon is in deep discussions with the state department and the white house trying to determine what other assets may be needed, ships, planes, even some u.s. troops that are stationed overseas have been notified that they could be moved to u.s. embassies to try to meet the president's goal of trying to bolster security around the world, wolf. >> yeah, but those drones are really intriguing to me, chris. i assume to you and a lot of folks that the pentagon as you know president obama's authorized targeted killings by drones in pakistan. certainly in afghanistan, in
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yemen. the question is, will similar drone attacks against al qaeda or other terrorist elements in libya be undertaken now especially since the president has declared publicly justice will be served against those who killed those four americans? >> reporter: that is the big question, wolf. right now what we have from the pentagon is a continuation and a focusing of these surveillance drone flights. those are very different than some of the attack drones that have been used obviously in parts of pakistan and other parts of the world where the administration has gone after senior al qaeda figures. but that would be a change going from strictly surveillance to an actual attack on an insurgent cell. >> i wouldn't be surprised. we'll see what happens. thanks very much for that. the president says justice will be served. the attack in libya coincided with demonstrations against a crude anti-muslim film produced right here in the united states. our own brian todd tracked down one of the people who knows the filmmaker.
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jack cafferty has more on the violent attacks in both libya and egypt. jack. >> well, so much for the arab spring, or is it? the wave of protests sweeping parts of the middle east of north africa in which the people fought to oust dictators doesn't seem to have brought any of them any closer to a peaceful society. libya and egypt are the latest example. years from now historians might even trace the origin of the arab spring in addition to the fruit vendor in tunisia who set himself on fire to the decision by george w. bush to attack iraq in the wake of 9/11. go in, overthrow a dictator, turn the country over to the people and presto. well, violence continues in iraq and people die there everyday. egypt's now in the hands of the muslim brotherhood. mubarak's gone. they had elections there. and yesterday violent mobs assaulted the u.s. embassy
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compound. in libya moammar gadhafi's gone. the u.s. ambassador and three other people are dead because some terrorists in that country didn't like a movie critical of islam. syria's become a slaughter house murdering the civilian population at will. iran continues the march toward nuclear weapons. i don't want to even think what might happen if they get them. and al qaeda is busy reconstitutes itself in pakistan and half a dozen other countries. the song writer who wrote the phrase, wishing won't make it so, spot-on. and anybody who thinks the middle east is suddenly going to transform itself into a peaceful civilization where majority rules, they just haven't been reading the history books. here's the question, is the arab spring worth it? go to, post a comment on my blog. or go to our post on the "the situation room" facebook page. >> you heard mitt romney today
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express concern that arab spring was turning out to be an arab winter. jack, a good question. >> i think mr. romney may have done himself a lot of damage today. >> we're going to have much more on this part of the story later as the political fallout is significant as well. standby. tuesday's deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in libya came amid regional fury over a film mocking islam and the prophet muhammad. >> a libyan government official says the protests in benghazi were at least partially keked to the film. u.s. sources are telling cnn that the people who attacked the ambassador used the protest outside the consulate as a diversion. cnn just received a statement from some of the people involved in this movie. the statement reads as such "the entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer.
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we are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. we are chock shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies were told to all involved. we are deeply saddened by the tragedys that have occurred. that from the cast and crew of this movie. we also spoke with a man who identifies himself as a consultant on the film. the film tied to the violence is called "innocence of muslims." an amateurish crude production of a thug where portions of dialogue are poorly dubbed in. cnn is not airing any part of it. according to reports published in "the wall street journal" and the associated press, the filmmaker is a real estate developer from california named sam bacile. a man identifying himself as bacile told "the wall street journal" islam is a cancer. we couldn't find information about him in checking data bases for hollywood productions or real estate records raising questions about whether the name sam bacile is a pseudonym.
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we spoke to steve klein, who says he consulted with bacile on the phone. i asked him about bacile's reaction to the violence in libya and egypt. >> he's very depressed. he's upset. i talked to him this morning. and he said that he was very concerned for what happened to the ambassador. >> reporter: klein says bacile is worried about his own safety and is in hiding. we tried to get bacile to speak to us and we're told he would not. klein says he hasn't known bacile for very long. he says bacile told him the film cost about $5 million to make with at least 50 people in the cast and crew. did you or mr. bacile have any sense that this film would cause the fallout that it apparently has? >> absolutely not. it's -- when i spoke to him, we knew that it was going to cause some friction. if anybody paid attention to it. when we first showed it, nobody paid any attention to it. so i pretty much forgot about it after i went to hollywood and
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saw nobody went to it. >> reporter: but if you knew it would cause friction, could you not, i guess, presuppose that it might cause violence in the middle east? if these things get on the internet and go viral? >> that's the interesting point. for example, when you started the interview, you asked me if i was afraid to show my face here or to speak about this. so my question is, in america, why should i be afraid? >> reporter: klein says the film merely shows what he calls the facts, evidence and proof about radical islam. klein says he's not anti-muslim. do you and mr. bacile feel you have any blood on your hands as a result of the violence? >> that's a very good question. under the rules of engagement in vietnam when i killed a north vietnamese army and the viet kong, i'd go to bed every night with no blood on my hand. it does not bother me a bit. in this case with the ambassador, i did not kill these people. it is they who pulled the trigger. it is they who murdered the ambassador. >> now, on that vietnam
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reference, klein says he is a vietnam veteran, a former marine who served in combat there. he says his own son was wounded by a suicide bomber in iraq while working with the u.s. army on a civil program there, wolf. >> i understand cnn also corresponding right now with one of the actresses in this so-called film. >> that's right. my colleague miguel marquez has spoken to her. we cannot identify her by name or say where we spoke with her. but essentially reiterated what we saw in the statement from the cast and crew of this movie. she did not know the movie was about the prophet muhammad and there was no character in the script and shocked by the film made. >> thank you, brian todd. the attack in libya came part of the presidential campaign narrative. mitt romney levels harsh criticism of the obama administration. response, was it premature? we're going to take you through a timeline of the events. [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso.
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somalia's new leader and an assassination attempt. >> hi, wolf. happened just two days after he was elected as president. journalists on the scene report early indications two suicide bombers set off explosives at the gates of a mogadishu hotel.
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at least four somalia soldiers were killed. consensus confirming what you already know, middle class income is still falling. median income dropped to $50,054 down 1.5% from a year earlier. national poverty rate dropped slightly. about 46 million people fell below the poverty line. that means a family of four living on just over $23,000 a year. and apple has unveiled a taller, thinner and lighter version of its iphone. the iphone 5 also has a four-inch screen compared to 3.5 inches on the previous versions. it will have a faster processor to connect mobile carriers with 4glg processing. some current speakers and accessories, they're going to need an adapter to work with the iphone 5. something to keep in mind. there are a few changes. look at that difference. much thinner. you can see on the screen. >> little thinner.
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i'm sure they'll sell a lot, a lot of those. >> me too. >> thanks very much. so foreign policy all of a sudden becoming the focus in a harsh campaign exchange with the crisis in libya still very much unfolding, mitt romney draws some serious criticism for his accusations against the obama administration.
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with the anti-u.s. violence in egypt and libya hitting the news late tuesday, mitt romney wasted no time before criticizing the obama administration's response and the president's international policies. he's doing it again today despite a growing political backlash and some questions about whether romney's twisting some of the facts. our national political correspondent jim acosta is over covering the romney campaign. he's got the very latest. jim. >> reporter: wolf, mitt romney initially said, yesterday, that he would not criticize president obama on september 11th, but late last night romney issued a statement that blasted the president's handling of the diplomatic attacks in the middle east. as one republican strategist put it to cnn, this could be the game-changer of the 2012 campaign. it was a high stakes moment for his campaign. and mitt romney doubled down accusing the president of showing weakness on the world stage in the hours after the killings of american diplomats
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overseas. >> i think it's a terrible course for america to stand in apology for our values. >> reporter: romney first weighed in on the crisis late tuesday taking issue with a statement released by the u.s. embassy in cairo aimed at calming tensions over a movie that mocked islam. the embassy's statement said it condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of muslims as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religion. in his own statement romney said it's disgraceful that the obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions but to sympathyize with those who waged the attacks. the embassy's statement was apparently released before the violence, not only in egypt but in libya as well where it was later confirmed the u.s. ambassador to that country was murdered. asked whether he spoke too soon, romney blamed the white house for not backing away from the
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embassy's comments right away. >> they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration. >> reporter: but romney's initial statement is dividing some republicans. one top advisor to john mccain's 2008 campaign said romney was "too quick to politicize over faulty reporting initially. too quick to politicize the deaths of foreign service officers makes him appear not ready." but another top gop strategist, cnn contributor alex castellanos said could be a "game changer" in a sign romney has no plans to back down his running mate, paul ryan, was just as harsh at a rally. >> if you show weakness, if you show moral equivocation, then foreign policy adventurism among our adversaries will increase. >> reporter: for the republican ticket it's a running theme romney has returned to time and again. from romney's book "no apologies" to his foreign
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policies dealings on the trail. >> he's given trust what's not earned, insult where it's not deserved and apology where it's not due. >> reporter: by contrast the president made no mention of romney in his remarks at the white house. >> we will not waiver in our commitment to make sure justice is done for this terrible act. and make no mistake, justice will be done. >> reporter: letting fellow democrats handle the response. >> i think he ought to apologize. and i don't think he knows what he's talking about, frankly. it's that simple. >> reporter: a top romney foreign policy advisor who asked not to be named acknowledged to cnn that the ambassador's death was not known at the time the gop nominee released that statement late last night. but as these new facts come in, that advisor told me, wolf, that does not change the heart of what romney said in that statement, wolf. >> all right. jim, thank you. president obama's now slapping directly back at mitt romney's criticism. listen to what he just told cbs
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news. >> there's a broader lesson to be learned here. governor romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and name later. and as president, one of the things i've learned is you can't do that. it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them. >> the president by the way is now on his way to a campaign event in nevada. let's bring in two cnn analysts, our chief political analyst, gloria borger, and chief political correspondent candy crowley. candy, did mitt romney jump the gun here? >> well, look, they don't think so. okay. that's their story and they're going to stick to it. they are in this. they were in it again this morning. they're feeling in the romney camp is, wait a second, the president disavowed and said this wasn't about our -- this statement from the u.s. embassy
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in cairo was not from us, we didn't approve it. and they'd say, look, this is what mitt romney condemned. it would look like an apology for free speech. >> what do you think of the president's response in that little clip we just showed? >> sort of swatted him down. look, i've talked to the romney campaign today. they say it's absurd that they're getting criticized for disavowing a statement that the president actually disavowed himself later on. but i've also talked to republican foreign policy experts. some of whom talk to the campaign, some of whom don't. and they're feeling is that what romney said last night was actually that the obama administration's response to the attacks was the egyptian embassy's statement, which of course was sort of a rogue statement, if you will. it had not been cleared by the state department, apparently. which is very odd for these kinds of things. you know that. diplomatic statements are usually clear. and i had this senior republican
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foreign policy expert say to me, let me quote this to you "that romney's statement was an ill considered jump to make an attack that also happens to be beside the point" because the real point he's trying to make is the president doesn't have a muscular foreign policy because by the way mitt romney is about a dozen points behind the president when it comes to foreign policy. >> foreign policy not necessarily a huge issue at least so far in this campaign. in our moegs recent poll we asked one of the most important issues out there said economic issues, 33% said domestic and social issues. 4% said foreign policy issues. and on the issue of foreign policy, you know, the president does much better. obama 54%, romney 42%. but, candy, 4%, unless there's a crisis, usually foreign policy is not on the minds of a lot of americans. >> right. and the question is how will we view this through the prism of november? when it was one thing when osama
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bin laden was out there and there was this, you know, is the bush administration going to get him when john kerry was running against george bush. the question is, does it have resonance come november with that 4%? because we keep seeing close polls. perhaps it could. but i think the larger question here is in listening to president obama was almost like listening to hillary clinton four years ago when she kept saying, well, you know what i know from having done this et cetera, et cetera. it does not seem to me that americans unless they feel a real threat to u.s. homeland that they vote on the basis of foreign policy alone. >> except, i remember and you do too, all of us remember 1980. jimmy carter, the incumbent president lost 444 days, americans held hostage in iran. a huge embarrassment for the then incumbent president. >> it was. but this is not that.
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>> we don't know how this is going to escalate. >> no, we doept. >> over the next two months. >> but not 444 days. >> right. at this point. >> right. >> this is not that. but i think what you saw president obama trying to do is to claim, okay, he's the one with the experience. he's the one who should get the 3:00 a.m. phone call. and i think what you see mitt romney doing is really playing defense. and in a way he's looking to pick a fight with the president over foreign policy. he needs to raise his approval rating on that to a certain degree because even though this election as your poll shows may not be about foreign policy, isn't likely to be about foreign policy, there's still sort of a commander in chief threshold. and what the president was trying to do was kind of say, well, mitt romney doesn't meet that threshold. it will be a debate. >> gloria, candy, thanks very much. the libyan ambassador of the united states speaking out to our own.
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the attack on the u.s. embassy in libya -- actually the u.s. consulate in libya and the protest outside the embassy in the egyptian capital of cairo come as both countries struggle to establish democracy following the arab spring. and cnn's chief international correspondent christiane amanpour is joining us. christiane, you had a chance to speak with libyan ambassador to
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the united states. what did he tell you? >> what i did, wolf, and obviously he's very sad. he knew chris stevens personally. he thanked him for all the efforts he made on behalf of libyan democracy as well as all the u.s. leadership. and those other three diplomats who were killed as well. but i asked him specifically the order from the u.s. is to hunt these people down and bring them to justice. and we've heard reports of drones going out to do surveillance and provide that intelligence to the libyans. i asked him could they do it, he said they had to. >> you will remember last few weeks there were also car bombs in tripoli. and we've been able to capture some of the people who are responsible for that. and that was a line to lead us to who was responsible and the financial support they get from overseas. it is our -- we must know these people, we must know the sellers who are working in the dark to
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destabilize libya and destabilize our relation with foreign countries. >> so, wolf, he's very clear that these people attacked the united states but also threatened the libyan democracy as well. >> what about egypt, christiane? you've spent a lot of time there. you've gotten to know some of these new leaders, these muslim brotherhood leaders, egyptian president mohamed morsi democratically elected, as far as we know right now he personally has not yet condemned the attack on the u.s. embassy in cairo yesterday. why is that? >> well, we have and i've spoken with him, i'm one of the few that has spoken with him, this is previously, he talked very strongly about a moderate democracy. i have asked why hasn't he spoken out yet. people tell me that he's traveling. there has been reaction from the prime minister of egypt who condemned the film because in egypt it was about this anti-islamic film that created the attacks against the u.s. embassy yesterday. prime minister condemning the film but saying there was no
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excuse for violence in egypt. and that protesters had to protest peacefully. and asking the united states by the same token to move against people who are insight hatred and insight tolerance based on ethnicity or religion. he also said to me our future lies not just in our region but within the united states. they're very clear, the egyptians, that their future lies with good relations, good bilateral relations with the u.s. and you know, earlier this week a high level u.s. delegation state department officials, business leaders, were in egypt to talk about moving forward together. listen to what mitt romney, the republican presidential nominee, said about the arab spring. and you covered it very, very thoroughly. listen to this. >> over the last several years we've stood witness to an arab spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region. but it also poses the potential for peril.
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if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events. we must strive to ensure that the arab spring does not become an arab winter. >> a lot of people see that arab winter. do you see that yet? >> well, listen, wolf, i think what candidate romney has said is what a lot of people say. of course you want to see this arab spring emerge into a democratic reality for this region. and a moderate one. but i don't think it is an arab winter. and nor do most people who look at what's going on there. they point to the moderates who have won in libya, for instance. and even though it's a muslim brotherhood candidate, they talk about upholding treaties, about democracy, about equality for all, about keeping good relations with not just israel and the peace treaty but also with the united states. in tunisia as well it's about moderation. but the fear of course is those small groups of sol fists. the real extremists.
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the saudi stall extremists not alt all happy with the democratic moderate way these countries are going. and it's in their interest to seize on any issue they can to attack not just the u.s. but also their own governments to try to put themselves in power. so that's what people have to keep an eye on. trying to empower these governments now and trying to help them, you know, really get to a democracy and build on these blocks while trying to sideline and minimize the trouble that the sol fas and extremist ks cause. >> christiane amanpour, as usual, thanks very much. >> thank you, wolf.
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jack's back with the cafferty file. jack. >> wolf, the question this hour is was the arab spring worth it? mike in minneapolis says asking why after two whole years, decades and maybe even centuries worth of problems haven't been solved is a very american question. toppling a dictator's not a magic pill. and the subsequent violence is by no means unique to the middle east. while the title may sound like it, arab spring is not a movie. for those in egypt, libya and iraq who have a tv set, i'm guessing they're not impressed with 21st century american democracy anyway. raf in florida says the jury's still out on whether the arab spring was worth it to the arabs. it was definitely not worth it to us. what part of too broke to keep
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playing world cop does our leadership not understand? john in alabama writes, yes, the arab spring was worth it, jack. freedom and democracy are messy, but the only things that fully satisfy the needs of the people. men and women will die for freedom so their children can live free. we might sit in different pews and pray in different ways, but the hallmark of our believes is freedom. houston says why do you refer to the arab spring in the past tense? they're still trying to find their way to a stable form of government. look at the history of the united states. we're declared our independence from england in 1776, and the u.s. constitution wasn't ratified until 1789. will you give the arabs 13 years to get their act together? and michael in virginia writes, we're lexington, concord and yorktown worth it? it's not our call, jack. if you want to read more on the subject, go to the blog or our post on the "the situation room" facebook page, wolf.
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>> jack, thank you. shock, condemnation and grief. we're going to hear hillary clinton's rather emotional statement as the embassy crisis unfolds. nual bonus. and everyone, but her... likes 50% more cash. but, i have an idea. do you want a princess dress? yes how about some cupcakes? yes lollipop? yes! do you want an etch a sketch? yes! do you want 50% more cash? no you got talent. [ male announcer ] the capital one cash rewards card. with a 50% annual cash bonus it's the card for people who like more cash. what's in your wallet? i usually say that.
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liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? within the tightly knit state department, the death of u.s. ambassador chris stevens is a huge loss. you can hear it in the voices in the people who knew him and worked with him including the secretary of state, hillary clinton. >> today many americans are asking, indeed i asked myself, how could this happen? how could this happen in a country we helped liberate in a
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city we helped save from destruction? this question reflects just how complicated and at times how confounding the world can be. but we must be clear-eyed even in our grief. this was an attack by a small and savage group. not the people or government of libya. >> secretary clinton also says violence like this is no way to honor a religion or a faith. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, president obama avows that justice will be done in the killing of the united states ambassador to libya and three other americans. but who was behind the attack? the house intelligence committee chairman congressman mike rogers is standing by. ambassador chris stevens risked
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his life to help libyans overthrow a dictator and lost his life in the city he helped to save. we're going to hear from those who knew him. and egypt's new leader speaking out without one word of condemnation for the attack on the u.s. embassy there. we're going live to cairo. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the united states is vowing to track down those behind the bloody attack on the american consulate in benghazi, libya. the u.s. ambassador, chris stevens and three other americans, died after the building was set ablaze by a rocket propelled grenade. >> we will not waiver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.
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and make no mistake, justice will be done. >> u.s. sources say the attack was planned in advance by a jihadist group. the fbi is investigating. and dozens of u.s. marines have been sent to beef up security for americans in libya. cnn's jomana karadsheh is on the phone. she's joining us from tripoli, libya, right now. jomana, tell us what happened based on all of the evidence, all of the reporting you're doi doing. [ technical difficulties ] jomana, i don't know if you can hear me. i'll try to fix that and get back to you. i think we've lost connections with jomana. we're going to get back to her. let me walk over here. the chairman of the house intelligence committee, mike rogers, is standing by. he's got -- he's been fully briefed on what's going on.
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mr. chairman, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. thanks for having me. >> based on what you have been told and all the information you have what you can share with our viewers here in the united states and around the world, first of all, who did this? who killed these four americans? >> the actual identity we're still working through the final details of exactly. i think we're getting close to being able to identify the group that is responsible for this. but it is -- it was clearly a well-coordinated attack that was specifically planned to do and accomplish what you saw unfortunately unfold in benghazi. >> was it an al qaeda-led or inspired operation? >> you can tell by the signature there in the -- for months we've seen al qaeda looking for western targets. that was all across northern africa. we have seen certain activities that certainly lead you to believe today that it is an al qaeda affiliated group.
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there are still some fuzzy details that i think we'll have resolved within the next few days to have a for sure and for certain. but clearly it has all the hallmark of an al qaeda-style event. >> was there any chatter as they say or any indication that something like this was about to happen at the u.s. consulate in benghazi? >> you know, we didn't get the warning you would hope to get in an event like this so we could have prevented the loss of life. and with a horrible tragedy for losing a u.s. ambassador mr. stevens. we think that we'll be able to go back and take a look. again, we're going to rescrub all of that. that's what unfortunately we'll need to do to make sure we didn't miss anything. but i don't believe so. i don't believe there was some smoking gun missed leading up to this. and there wasn't that kind of chatter that would lead you to believe that this event was happening on this day with this specific target. i didn't see anything like that. i don't think our intelligence services have. but we're going back to make that scrub to make sure we
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understand fully what the picture was leading up to the event and subsequent to the event. >> because it does look at least based on everything i've heard as a pretty sophisticated assassination effort to kill the united states ambassador. so here's the question, was it time to coincide with the 11th anniversary of 9/11? >> i'm an old fbi guy, wolf. i don't believe a lot of coincidences all in the same day. so it certainly looks that way to me. there are differences of opinion as we stand here today. remember, we're going to have more details. this story will take -- we'll understand all the pieces to this puzzle within days of the event. but right now it certainly appears to me that the significance of this date was important. we knew that al qaeda for years had a fixation on the 9/11 date since the original attack on the united states. so it wouldn't be implausible to think that they could plan an event.
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an event like this doesn't just come together in a day and say we're going out to do this. this was a well-sophisticated coordinated event. i believe this was timed to happen on this date. we don't know that for sure as of today. that's mike rogers looking at what we know from history and the facts i've seen making that conclusion. >> what we're hearing, mr. chairman, is that some of the protesters who showed up at the u.s. consulate in benghazi were upset by this anti-muslim film that's now out there on the internet. but that this actual killing mission, this assassination attempt and successful assassination plot had nothing to do with this anti-muslim film. >> and i believe that's right. and i would be also careful even on the egyptian portion of this. that film played a role, but we're not exactly sure if this wasn't an information operation. remember, in cairo there had been protests for some time at that particular place. there certainly were some extremist groups that we knew were participating and
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organizing and stirring up those protests. what we saw from the cartoon incident is that when they were published, the violence wasn't really conducted for months after that. and it was because of this information operations conducted by extremist groups to try to use that as a vehicle to get people to conduct acts of violence. we don't know for sure yet today, wolf. but i'm highly suspect of the timing of certain issues. questions we don't have answered. and the fact that there may have been an information operation designed around filtering into these protest groups to attack the embassy on that particular day. again, we're going to know more in the days ahead. but i would be a little bit -- i would be a little bit hesitant to say it was all because of this particular video that this happened. i think there's a lot more questions we need answered before i'd come to that conclusion. >> yeah. you don't believe in coincidences as a former fbi agent. i don't believe in coincidences necessarily either. so here's the question, the
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attack on the u.s. embassy in cairo coming on the anniversary of 9/11, the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi coming on the anniversary of 9/11, is there any connection between these two attacks? >> as of today i can tell you of no connection between those two events. but, again, something could change. here's the other part of this. remember, there's encouragement for these franchises of al qaeda around the world to conduct operations. so they may get a general, you know, opportunistic command of, hey, on this day we would like you to do something. and then they would take their internal planning from there. so you can say in some cases that there may have been a general belief that that day was important and they should coordinate any attacks on that particular day without the egyptian faction and the libyan faction even knowing either one. so there's a lot of areas for confusion here if you're looking at it from the outside. at the same time there may have been. we just haven't seen it yet.
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>> we're out of time, mr. chairman. one quick final question, what does it say to you that the president of egypt, mohamed morsi, issues a statement but does not condemn the attack on the u.s. embassy in egypt? and i raise the question because the u.s. as you well know provides egypt with about $1.5 billion, with a b, billion dollars a year in various forms of military and economic assistance. >> well, we're going to have to ask some really hard questions. remember, this new muslim brotherhood-led government violated the treaty really with israel by putting tanks and heavy armament into the sanai. they've made pretty sweeping damaging statements to that relationship. and made other concrete decisions. why wint the external security force better prepared and doing more to keep those folks off the wall on our embassy in cairo? we're going to have to lay on the table some very hard talking points. one of which is the aid that we give to egypt. now, i wouldn't rush to take it
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away. but we certainly need to make conditional changes here in our relationship with this new egyptian government if we're going to have a relationship that wants to move forward and doesn't want to degrade and devolve into what could be at least soft on jihadists who are starting to believe that they have the opportunity of to freedom to do acts in places like egypt and around the world. >> mike rogers, chairman of the house intelligence committee. mr. chairman, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. thanks for having me. i think we've re-established our connection with cnn's jomana karadsheh. she's on the phone joining us from tripoli, the libyan capital. jomana, if you can hear me, tell me what your reporting has suggested? what exactly do we know happened in benghazi at the u.s. consulate there? >> reporter: wolf, libyan sources here have been giving conflicting reports of what actually happened. what we know is coming from senior u.s. sources saying it
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was a rocket propelled grenade that struck the consulate setting it ablaze. the staff in there were facing a fire inside the building and heavily armed fighters on the outside. we're hearing ambassador stevens and three others killed with him were separated from the other staff members as they tried to escape to the roof of the building. the ambassador and two other employees including a regional security officer were in a safe room in the building as it burnt around them. u.s. sources are saying that there were attempts to go back into the building and rescue them, but they were unsuccessful. foreign service member sean smith according to these sources died of smoke inhalation inside the building. and it also appears ambassador stevens managed to escape from the burning building, but it's not clear what condition he was in when he got out and how he died. >> i know the libyan government has condemned the attack, the killing of the united states
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ambassador and three other americans condemn the attack on the u.s. consulate. but here's the question, was there a libyan military or police presence there to protect this diplomatic compound? >> reporter: yes, wolf. when this story broke yesterday, we had officers on the scene who were describing what was going on there as a front line. they said that libyan security forces along with today we're learning with u.s. security were -- these attackers, clashes that went on for hours according to these eyewitnesses. now, what we're hearing today from the libyan government, the libyan parliament speaker trying to reassure the united states and the international community that the libyan authorities here are here to provide security and safety for foreign nationals and foreign mission in libya, something very hard for people
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to believe right now especially after this attack. and previous attacks that we have seen over recent months targeting foreign missions they are in benghazi, the u.s. consulate itself being the target back in june when a bomb -- >> jomana karadsheh, i think we just lost our connection. be careful if you can hear me over there. she was joining us on the phone from the libyan capital of tripoli. we're also getting new information that's coming in on how the attack went down. additional details. standby, we're going to give you a minute-by-minute account of what happened. and our colleague -- one of our colleagues knew ambassador stevens for more than a decade, our state department reporter elise labott will share some personal reflections. woman 1: this isn't just another election. we're voting for...
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jack cafferty's also following our top story, the killing of the united states ambassador in libya. jack's here with the cafferty file. jack. >> the violence in libya has suddenly yanked the spotlight
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off the economy and put it squarely on foreign policy, at least as far as the u.s. presidential campaign is concerned. mitt romney quick to slam president obama for his administration's response to angry mobs attacking u.s. diplomatic buildings in the middle east. romney said that a statement from the u.s. embassy in cairo was like an apology calling it "disgraceful to apologize for american values." other republicans jumped in, blasted the president's failed foreign policy of appeasement and apology. the white house disavowed the embassy statement, said they never approved it before it was sent out. in that statement the cairo embassy condemned "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of muslims." all of this going back to that film produced in the united states that some muslims found offensive. president obama condemned the attacks. but he said that mitt romney has the tendency to "shoot first and aim later."
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something obama said you can't do as president. and others agree that romney may have jumped the gun with his response. senator john kerry called romney's remarks irresponsible, inexperienced and reckless. he said romney was wrong to weigh-in before all the facts were known. as for the voters, they tend to trust the president by a pretty wide margin when it comes to foreign policy. a cnn/orc survey released this week showed president obama with a 54%, 42% advantage over mitt romney. here's the question, how will the meltdown in the middle east effect the u.s. presidential campaign and election? go to, post a comment on my blog. or go to our post on the "the situation room" facebook page. wolf. >> jack, thank you. let's get a closer look at just how the deadly attack on the americans in libya happened. cnn's tom foreman is joining us now. tom, walk us through what you're learning. >> the simple truth is, wolf, as investigators look at this, they're going to study how people, weapons and a sequence
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of events came together. benghazi's a town of about 700,000 people. last evening according to various published eyewitness accounts, several hundred began gathering around the u.s. mission there enguarded in part by libyan security forces. this crowd had been widely described as including members of an ultraconservative islamist group. precisely who they were remains unclear. u.s. officials are certain that within this group was an organized assault force intent on attacking the mission there. as does mob press closer to the building, shots were fired from the crowd. and as u.s. officials describe it, an organized attack with heavy weapons erupted from that crowd. an expert over at global tells us in all likelihood the rifles being used were ak-47s and belgian f-2000. the country littered with these from many years of war. and also rocket propelled grenades. these have enough punch to knock down doors, maybe some parts of walls.
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it's worth noting also however that eversince gadhafi's fall, there have been many reports of much more powerful shoulder-launched rockets going missing, rockets which could do much more damage if they were used. we're yet to find out if that's the case. we'll find out as time goes on. in any event, libyan guards were driven back by the assault. everyone else too. other homemade bombs were lobbed over the perimeter and attackers charged into the compound. during all of this u.s. officials believe the ambassadors and others holed up in a safe room as mentioned earlier. and as it filled with smoke, they tried to escape to the roof. they ended up caught between the attackers outside and the fires inside. and according to authorities, the ambassador was overcome by smoke. and smoke inhalation is what ultimately killed him. the whole affair beginning to end is believed to have lasted about three hours, wolf. the repercussions of course with last much, much longer. that's the sequence of events and weapons that investigators are going to study very closely to determine if as suggested by
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the congressman earlier this was an organized assault planned ahead of time and executed last evening. >> that's what congressman mike rogers, chairman of the house intelligence committee clearly suggested. this was a plot. this was a plan that was in the works for some time and may have had direct al qaeda connections. thanks, tom, for that. we're going to continue to stay on top of this story. there's other news we're following as well including some democrats who have been forced to apologize for a mishap on the big screen at last week's democratic convention. you're going to see what happened. stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
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chicago's massive public school strike has now hit its third day.
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lisa sylvester's monitoring that and some other top stories in "the situation room" right now. my heart goes out to all those parents and kids in chicago. >> yeah, you know they are certainly feeling it, wolf. thousands of teachers, they are back outside picketing today while both sides are back at the negotiating table. still apparently miles apart from a deal that would get 350,000 children back in school. teacher evaluations and benefits were initially among the major sticking points. the union represents almost 30,000 teachers and support staff in the country's third largest school district. and the cdc is warning of an outbreak of illness linked to the consumption of a type of tainted ricotta cheese that's left three people dead and another 14 hospitalized across 11 states and the district of columbia. the outbreak is being blamed on the bacteria listeria. it may be tied to the company, forever cheese, which has issued a voluntary recall. listeria's known for causing food born illness. and fish oil supplements which have been widely touted for
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improving heart health may not be as useful as once thought. researchers for a new study re-examined inconsistent data from 20 previous clinical trials and concluded the supplements were no more effective than a placebo at preventing premature death or serious cardiovascular problems. doctors recommend fish in its natural state to boost heart health. you know those four giant warships that appeared on screen at the democratic national convention? they reportedly weren't american ships. according to the navy times, experts concluded the photo composite actually showed russian ships with trainer jets flying overahead. the navy timings reports democratic officials have apologized for that mistake. i know, wolf, they're trying to figure out how did that mistake happen. that's a pretty big one at the dnc. you don't want russian ships at an event where you're honoring u.s. veterans, certainly. >> in this day and age,
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everybody notices. there are experts that notice everything. >> you can go back, look at the tape, you can blow things up, you can examine it very closely. they've got to watch those thigpens certa things, certainly, wolf. >> those who knew the united states ambassador to libya say one word about him. and they're saying it often on this day, the word being optimistic. just ahead, lisa sylvester will be back to take a closer look at the man behind the diplomat. this happy couple used capital one venture miles
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just hours ago president obama ordered the flags at the white house and federal buildings around the country be lowered to half staff in honor of those four americans who lost their lives in benghazi. lisa's back. she's joining us with a closer look at how they are being remembered. lisa. >> yeah, such a tragic story, wolf. we now know the names of two of the four victims, ambassador chris stevens who didn't run from the hot spots of the world. he ran toward them. he had a strong conviction that by getting people to the table they could reach agreement. and then there is sean smith, an air force veteran who worked for the state department for ten years, a husband and father. >> my name is chris stevens, and i'm the new u.s. ambassador to libya. >> a 21-year veteran of the foreign service. shortly before he left to begin his diplomatic post in libya, he made this video. he visited the monuments of slain american heroes who died for a cause they believed in. maybe a bit of foreshadowing.
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>> i'm reminded that we too went through challenging periods when america was divided by a bitter civil war. >> during the libyan revolution to oust moammar gadhafi, stevens served as u.s. envoy to libya opposition arriving on a cargo ship in the port of benghazi. >> he risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better libya. >> reporter: stevens grew up in northern california, attended the university of berkeley and joined the peace corps in 1983. he spoke french and arabic and spent most of his foreign service career posted throughout the middle east and north africa. his friends are remembering him today. >> i knew him throughout my life. and i lost a part of myself today. and i lost someone who actually unconditionally loved just about everybody. >> reporter: stevens was well-known and well-liked on capitol hill. in july senator mccain posted this picture to twitter calling
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stevens "one of america's finest diplomats who also makes one of the best cappuccinos in tripoli." among his friends senior staffer manisha singh. >> he was dedicated to working to build a common understanding. >> reporter: also killed in the attack, sean smith, a foreign service information officers. he was posted at the hague in libya only on short assignment. smith has been with the foreign service for ten years. he's survived by his wife, heather, and children samantha and nathan. smith had an active presence in the online gaming world. both men died doing a mission for their country. stevens being the first ambassador since 1979 to be killed in the line of duty. >> this was his calling in life. he basically said this is what he was meant to do. and he was willing to take the risks. and it's so unfortunate that that risk finally overtook him. it's tragic that -- you know, i think he died living out his
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life's mission. >> two other americans were killed along with smith and stevens. their names have not been released pending notification of next of kin, wolf. >> a sad, sad story indeed. i assume at some point they'll let us know the names of these other two americans. >> that's at least what the plan is. i know earlier in the day they said they had to notify the next of kin. so that's what we're waiting on. so within the next few hours, nec day or so, we should hopefully hear their names as well, wolf. >> deepest condolences to all of their families. a lot of people knew this united states ambassador to libya. he was well-known especially to some of our own colleagues and correspondents. our foreign affairs reporter, elise labott, is here. you knew him for ten years? >> i did. he's one of the first people i met when i came to the state department in 2000 as a producer there, wolf. >> and you actually worked with him, traveled with him a little bit. tell us about chris stevens. >> well, chris stevens was a man who everyone knew. he loved libya. i first traveled with him in
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2007. zane and i traveled with secretary of state condoleezza rice where he was the head of the u.s. embassy as it was standing up. we took a trip, for instance, to the ruins. it was the three of us. just really standing in these ruins right there, wolf. i mean, it was just -- i thought what was amazing is chris saw it and said, look, this country really has so much potential for tourism. he always saw the good in libya, the potential in libya. and he was someone that was seen as having -- this was not a pinstripe diplomat. he was somebody who really got his hands dirty, rolled up his sleeves and went into the trenches working with the rebels. someone who really always tried to find the good in people. >> so he wasn't just walking around with a suit and tie and having diplomatic -- >> more like khakis and a t-shirt. >> and he spoke the language as well, which is critically important for united states -- >> fluent arabic speaker. >> i guess the mood -- you were at the state department today,
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it must be so somber just reflecting on him and the three others. >> it's definitely a sad day for the state department. as lisa said, since '79 an ambassador killed. but he was seen as the cream of the crop for the u.s. foreign service. he went to all these hot spots as his friends said. he was in syria, he was in jerusalem at the height of tensions there. and really somebody who was kind of an adventurer, really seen as someone who really loved doing what he did. and he died, unfortunately, doing what he loved. >> yeah, that's a sad story. he was so helpful in getting rid of gadhafi, helping the rebels win that war, if you will, that civil war. and he pays this price. what an awful situation. thanks very much, elise labott. egypt's new leader is now speaking out without, get this, one word of condemnation for the attack on the united states embassy in cairo. we're going live to cairo. [ male announcer ] if you believe the mayan calendar,
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the deadly attack in libya followed a mob assault on the united states embassy in cairo where protesters climbed the walls and tore down the american flag. the trouble may have been sparked by a controversial anti-muslim film. now egypt's new president, the veteran muslim brotherhood leader mohamed morsi has finally released a statement. remarkable though for what he omitted. let's go to cnn's ian lee joining us from cairo. ian, what did president morsi say? >> reporter: well, wolf, i'm going to read you a bit. and i want to put it in two sections. first, i'm going to talk about what president morsi said about the film.
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and then i'm going to talk about what he said about those going into the embassy. first, again about the film. he says the presidency condemns in the strongest terms the attempt of a group to insult the place of the messenger the prophet. this is about the film. he said the presidency also confirms that the egyptian government is responsible to protect private and public properties in diplomatic missions in addition to embassy headquarters of various countries. basically, that second sentence not the strong condemnation we saw in the first. basically stating the obvious that every country has the duty to protect foreign missions in their country. so this is a strange -- a mere opposite really, of the first statements where he condemns the film and then hasn't really come out and condemned the protest. although we did see the prime minister and the foreign
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ministry come out against the protesters breaking into the embassy. but still pretty soft tone from the president, wolf. >> glaring omission from that carefully written statement that took them a long time to release. are you getting any indication, ian, that what happened in cairo was actually coordinated with the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya? >> reporter: well, wolf, the more we're learning about what happened in benghazi, the more it seems like these were not coordinated at all. when i was on the ground at the embassy last night, it seemed more like passion, the crowd was passionate. they were going in to the embassy not really any organization to it. mainly it seemed like they were hul begans going in with some islamists to take down the american flag. really it reminded me more of the break into the embassy --
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the israeli embassy, almost a year ago that we saw happen when they also broke into that embassy. that's what it reminded me more of. not something that was coordinated with libya. >> here's what concerns me and a lot of others in washington, ian, and especially those of us who have spent time in cairo. there's a strong military there. a strong police presence. if they really had any indications this was about to happen, they easily could have taken steps to prevent those demonstrators from climbing those high walls and getting into the embassy compound. and here's the question, where were they? why weren't they doing their job to protect this foreign diplomatic mission? >> reporter: well, wolf, we actually talked to both the ministry of interior, which is in charge of the police. and we talked to the military. and the first ministry of interior said that they were basically unprepared and they were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that showed up. and if you go to the u.s.
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embassy on any other day, there is a heavy police presence and military presence there. and the police said they were just caught off guard even though they had warning of days before that a protest would take place. now, the military said that their presence there was to stop any sort of assault that was similar to what we saw in libya. they said if militants were to attack with weapons, then the military would step in. but they said they're not trained to deal with riots and large mobs. they said that's the responsibility of the police. and i asked the military said why didn't the police respond or have it set up before the protest. and they basically said that the police were unprepared for this. >> they certainly were. all right, thanks very much, ian lee, our man on the scene in cairo. the brazen and deadly attack in libya has many people here in the united states asking this question, how could this have happened? we're going to get some answers. that's next.
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the u.s. ambassador chris stevens worked to help rebuild libya after the revolution. for secretary of state hillary clinton, that only makes his death harder to comprehend. listen to this. >> today, many americans are asking indeed i asked myself, how could this happen? how could this happen in a country we helped liberate in a city we helped save from destruction? this question reflects just how
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complicated and at times how confounding the world can be. but we must be clear-eyed even in our grief. this was an attack by a small and savage group. not the people or government of libya. >> joining us now is professor, senior fellow at the hoover institution. professor, thanks very much for coming in. let me ask you the question that the secretary of state just asked. how could this happen in a country that ambassador stevens helped liberate? >> you know, wolf, this region as you know so well is full of heartbreak and full of surprises. and i think secretary clinton said it right when you think of the legacy of ambassador stevens going to benghazi and when you think of the american effort to protect benghazi when that horrible dictator, moammar
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gadhafi put benghazi on notice that he's on his way to benghazi to hunt the people of benghazi to hunt them down, house by house, street by street, alleyway by alleyway, as he put it. and then this fine -- devoted his life to this region being gunned downindeed. we don't know who is responsible. we've heard various speculation. the chairman of the house intelligence committee thinks it has some fingerprints of al qaeda or at least al qaeda-inspired affiliate operation. what do you think? >> you know, wolf, i think we have to remember that al qaeda had deep presence, actually, in libya, and we go back to the infiltration of al qaeda into iraq a while ago. a few years ago. what we learned when the americans got the documents, the computer records of the jihadists, they captured records and what they learned is the largest group of jihadists came
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from saudi arabia. the second largest group came from libya. so there has always been an al qaeda presence in libya. there was a presence that gadhafi occasionally used in the fashion of the dictators of the arab world. they could wink at terrorism when it served their purposes. so there is a sustained presence in al qaeda. coincidence or not that this occurred on the anniversary of 9/11. what we suspect is it was really connected to september 11th. and here we are, in fact, we are declaring victory if you will. and everybody has been reminding ourselves that osama bin laden is dead. osama bin laden is dead. but bin laden is still alive. and his deputy is still around.
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and so you have to wonder why pick that particular date? and i don't give that much credence to the fact that this was connected to this ridiculous and vile movie that was made about the prophet. these groups, these kinds of groups, look for any incident. they look for the cartoon crisis. they look for the -- they look for the release of this movie. they look for whatever reverend jones in florida does. they're never without reasons to do the deeds that they do. >> and what do you make of the mob attack on the united states embassy in cairo? and you've been there many times. and the statement that mohammed morsi gave today that did not have one word of condemnation. >> i saw morsi go to iran. we all watched him when he went to iran about ten days or so
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ago. and he spoke passionately condemning the syrian regime right in front of the iranians. he spoke about the oppression of the syrian people. none of that passion. none of that conviction was in that statement. that statement is a disgrace. that statement, i think, is not worthy of an ally. it's not worthy of a country that's been the recipient of american aid for something like four decades. we need to talk to president morsi about that. >> as you well know, fouad, so much is at stake in that relationship. are you concerned? >> i am, i am. and we've talked about this on your program many times. are we now disappointed in the rebellion in egypt of the topple of hosni mubarak. mush that was wrong came our way
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during the time of the dictators. we should remember that 9/11 -- that 9/11 was the gift, in many ways, of the dictator. when we saw the son of an e egyptian lawyer. things have been wrong long before the eruption. we didn't have a good deal with hosni mubarak. now it's easy to say it was better under the dictator. it was terrible then. and it is terrible today. >> should the u.s. congress continue to appropriate $1.5 billion a year in various forms of military -- mostly military, but some economic assistance to egypt? >> you know, i t haven't thought about that fully. the time may have come to be brave. for american policy to risk, if you will, offending the egyptians and to risk calling this relationship for what it is. and to risk going to the egyptians and asking them for an
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alliance or a friendship worth the investment we have in egypt. we always feared that somehow or another we pulled the plug on the egyptian military that all hell would break loose. we should have more courage. we should expect a better deal and a better relationship. >> fouad ajami, as usual, thank you very much. our national security adviser just saw ambassador stevens in libya just two weeks ago. her firsthand account is coming up in our next hour. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] at&t. the nation's largest 4g network.
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jack is back with the cafferty file. jack? >> question this hour. how is the meltdown in the middle east likely to affect the presidential election? >> romney looked not ready for prime time. four people die, including our ambassador and he tries to score political points. he proved he has no decency. jim says the middle east will not play a huge role in this year's presidential election. the american public is too concerned ab the economic issues at home to worry about the barbaric acts of the middle east. the only way they'll play a big part in the election is if one of the candidates changes his stance and tells the country to take a hike. my vote will go to that candidate. pete says it could make a difference with independent voters if they look for the truth in how weak president obama has been defending american values and traditions around the globe. his constant apologies to the lunatics in the middle east have weakened our position and image
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there and embarrassed and insulted americans at home. dan says thanks to mr. romney for pouring fuel on the fire before his facts were known. i'm a registered republican, but because of romney putting politics ahead of truth and pay tr patriotism, i plan to change my party affiliation. and david says, by the time november rolls around the other events will occupy our limited attention. you know, what some realty star is doing, baseball will start. if you like to read more, go to or post on the situation room's facebook page. wolf? >> jack, thank you. happening now, new details of the attack that killed the united states ambassador and growing concern about what's next. the movie that's outraging muslims and sparking violence. plus, mitt romney's reaction
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and the political fallout. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin this hour with chilling new details of the chaos that engulfed the united states consulate in benghazi, libya. this shows a coordinated attack, possibly a terrorist operation that killed four americans, including the the united states ambassador to libya, chris stevens. this afternoon president obama visited stevens' grieving colleagues over at the state department and signed a condolence book. earlier at the the white house he vowed the united states will hunt down the people behind the attack. >> the united states condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. we're working with the government of libya to secure our diplomats. i've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts
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around the world. make no mistake, we will work with the libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people. >> our foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty is at the state department with more on how this deadly attack unfolded. what's the latest information, jill, that you're getting? >> wolf, we had that briefing, and they're cautioning that they're dealing with first reports from benghazi and lot of confusion, but here's what we know so far. tuesday night in benghazi, a complex and highly dangerous situation. outside, an anti-american protest. then a group of heavily armed militants, approximately two dozen of them, launched an attack, firing rocket propelled grenades. >> the attack in libya is appears to be a very coordinated military style attack. this was a clear, targeted, planned event. >> according to senior u.s.
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officials, that ignited a fire inside the consulate. american and libyan security personnel officials say we're forced to fight on two fronts. the attackers on the outside, the fire inside. diplomatic sources are beginning to piece together what happened next. officials tell cnn ambassador chris stevens in benghazi on a short visit from the capital tripoli, along with sean smith, in libya on temporary assignment took refuge in a safe room with a lead security officer. but the room became filled with smoke. the officer left the room, they say. when he returned, smith was dead. ambassador stevens was missing. one official says stevens and others were trying to escape to the roof. then confusion. stevens got out and somehow ended up at the hospital. unconfirmed reports say he may
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have been unconscious. his body later was returned to u.s. officials at the benghazi airport. secretary of state hillary clinton praised the libyans who she said helped fight off the attackers and carried ambassador stevens' body to the hospital. >> this was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of libya. >> at this point, state department officials believe the attack was planned in advance, but do not believe ambassador stevens was directly targeted. nicholas burns, a former talk state department official, tells cnn, u.s. diplomats are facing an incendiary situation in the middle east. >> the cruel irony here is that the united states is well regarded in libya, and there's a moderate government in place. and this is clearly the actions of an isolated and very small but very vicious terrorist group. and so we've got to protect ourselves from those groups. and we've got to go after them.
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>> four killed. at least three wounded. they're being taken to an air base in germany for treatment, as are the remains of those who died. wolf? >> thanks very much, jill dougherty at the pentagon. swift response to the attack including the deployment of a marine force. chris lawrence is working that part of the story for us. chris, what are you picking up over there? >> well, wolf, we now know the 50 man marine team, the special quick response team is now on the ground in tripoli in there in libya. they're going to be helping beef up security there for the american diplomats who are still in libya as well as helping to evacuate more americans if that becomes necessary. we've also now learned that certain troops and units all around the world have been notified that they may be moved to u.s. embassies around the world to help beef up some of the security there. we believe that only applies to some of the troops that are
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stationed overseas, not troops back here in the u.s. wolf? >> what about president obama, chris? he said that justice will be done. what's going on in that regard? because that suggests to me the u.s. will try to hunt down those responsible for the killing of those americans. either arrest them, detain them or kill them. >> well, the options certainly seem to be falling into place quickly, wolf. we learned today that the u.s. has confirmed that they've been flying drone surveillance flights over libya for several months. but now we're told that those flights will become more focused, looking specifically for that insurgent cell that was behind this attack. and now we're hearing that the u.s. navy is moving two warships to the coast of libya. both of those warships are equipped with missiles. that's important because the tomahawks are guided by the satellite and can be programmed to hit a very specific target. together with the surveillance
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drones and these missiles, that gives the administration options if it decides to go ahead with an attack. >> i assume they will. thank you very much, chris lawrence over at the pentagon. let get more with fran townsend. she was the homeland security adviser for president george p. bu -- george w. bush. she's also a member of the cio internal advisory committee. >> and just last month fran visited libya. first question is do you have any indication or any information that this was a premeditated attack on the consulate in libya, as secretary clinton said, by a small and savage group? what are you picking up? >> you know, look, i think they're going through -- it was chaos there. and a lot of this unfolded over the last 12 to 18 hours. but there isn't, from the folks i've spoken to, they haven't found any indication of preplanning of this attack.
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it's hard to imagine something this large and this savage could have happened sort of spon t spontaneo spontaneously. and there's clearly a group that is a northern affiliate of al qaeda in the area to the east of where benghazi is, and so it's entirely possible that they were able to take advantage of a very bad situation. >> i spoke to mike rogers, the chairman of the house intelligence committee. he said to me specifically this attack had the hallmark of an al qaeda style event. do you agree with that? >> i think it's hard to say that yet, wolf. look, what we know is ansar al sz sharia is an affiliate. al qaeda is in tix many. the fact that there was a protest, there were shots fired, i don't know that we can say yet that it has the hallmarks of al qaeda.
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embassy bombings with a big car explosion. maybe this is the new al qaeda. >> smaller scale. >> as jill dougherty just told us, they are just getting first reports out of benghazi. they're working through the information right now. you were in libya just two weeks ago. what was your sense from the situation on the ground? what was the security situation like there? >> you know, it's interesting. when you travel to a war zone, a many of our colleagues know, there's a big military package around you. although it's a war zone, you feel very secure. that was not at all my feeling in tripoli. frankly, i was coming back from dinner at night. there were multiple check points of malicious, ununiformed, heavily armed. there was a tense feeling when they stopped your car. you didn't know what they were going to ask you or what they were going to say. i raised the issue tw the ambassador, who i saw the next morning for breakfast. chris stevens, who has tragically been killed now.
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and his frame of reference -- he had been with the rebels in benghazi prior to the fall of the gadhafi regime. so he sort of felt very comfortable. and it was certainly an improvement over the early days of the fighting. but he acknowledged that it was going to take time for libyan security forces to integrate the militias into the ranks, get them trained, get them uniformed. so there was a fragility. >> obviously our condolences go out to his family. >> he was beloved. he walked into the hotel where we were having breakfast. the libyans adored him. he loved libya. he had been my control officer on a b 2007 visit when i went to libya. >> what does that mean? >> he was the diplomatic officer responsible for my visit. i was coming from the white house, i was the most senior person at that time to visit gadhafi, and he was responsible for the visit. and so i knew him. he had a deep love and respect for the country, for the people
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of libya, and he was frankly very optimistic, very hopeful about the able of the libyans to form this new government and to secure their own borders and their own people. >> everybody says he was very, very optimistic. that's the word you keep hearing. fran, thanks very much. mitt romney is reacting to all of this as well. we're getting a little bit of a political firestorm emerging right now. romney under fire himself even from some fellow republicans. we'll have details of what's going on. you've been busy for a dead man. after you jumped ship in bangkok, i thought i'd lost you. surfing is my life now. but who's going to .... tell the world that priceline has even faster, easier ways to save you money. . . on hotels, flights & cars? you still have it. i'll always have it. so this is it? we'll see where the waves take me.
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mitt romney is facting criticism even from fellow republicans for his politically charged reaction to the attacks on the american outpost. jim acosta is joining us now. what's the latest with this
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uproar involving romney and his reaction. >> mitt romney initially said he would not criticize the president. then he released a statement blasting his handling of the diplomatic attacks in the middle east. as one republican stat gist put it this could be the game changer of the 2012 campaign. it was a high stakes moment for his campaign and mitt romney double downed. accusing the president of showing weakness on the world stage in the hours after the killings of american diplomats overseas. >> i think it's a -- a terrible course for america to apologize for our values. >> romney took issue with a statement released by the u.s. embassy in cairo, aimed at calming tensions over a movie that mauked islam. the embassy statement says it condemns the efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of
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muslims as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. romney said it's disgraceful that obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions. but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks. later it was confirmed the u.s. ambassador to the country was murdered. asked if he spoke to soon, romney blamed the white house for not backing away from the embassy's comments right away. >> they clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration, and the embassy is the administration. >> but romney's administration is dividing republicans. one top adviser to john mccain's 2008 campaign said romney was, quote, too quick to politicize over faulty reporting initially. to quick to politicize the death of foreign service officers. makes him appear not ready. but another top gop strategist, cnn contributor alex castellanos
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said romney's tough talks could be a game changer. he has no signs to back down and his running mate was just as harsh at a rally in wisconsin. >> if you show weakness, if you show moral equivocation, then foreign policy adventurism among our adversaries will increase. >> for the republican ticket it's a running theme romney has returned to time and time again. for romney's book no apology to his foreign policy speeches on the trail. >> in dealings with other nations he's given trust where it's not earned, insult where it's not deserved, and apology where it's not due. >> by contrast, the president made no mention of romney in his remarks. >> we will not waiver to see justice is done for this terrible act. and make no mistake, justice will be done. >> letting fellow democrats handle the response. >> i think he ought to apologize. and i don't think he knows what he's talking about frankly. it's that simple.
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>> now romney's statement late last night did note the death of an american consulate worker, but as one foreign policy adviser to mitt romney told cnn earlier today they acknowledged the death of the ambassador was not known at the time that that statement was released by the campaign, but we should also note, wolf, that mitt romney does not yet receive national security briefings from the white house. that is customarily something that happens during the course of a campaign. >> it's going to happen soon. now technically he's eligible for the briefings no that he's the official nominee of the republican party. jim, thanks very much. kate? >> president obama is firing right back at mitt romney, no surprise. but he's not taking anything from the campaign trail. all energy development comes with some risk,
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president obama visited the state department to ensure diplomats their presence is appreciated. he also is firing back at mitt romney, who blasted the administration's response to the protest. i want to bring in our white house correspondent dan lothian. he's traveling with the president in las vegas. hey there, dan. what do you have?
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>> well, what a day for the president. some very forceful comments from the president today in reaction to the violence in libya. the president mincing no words, condemning the violence and talking about how the u.s. would work with the libyan government to make sure those responsible for the violence will be brought to justice. now a little bit of time line here. the president, we're told, according to a senior administration official did learn last night that the ambassador stevens was unaccounted for. it was this morning the president found out that, in fact, he had passed away. so the president first releasing a statement, then appearing before the cameras at the white house where he did deliver remarks taking two key points. that's the reference to the controversial film that sparked all of this violence and then the president condemning is senseless violence. as you pointed out, the president also stopping off at the state department where he
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met with employees there for about 15 minutes or so talking about the important role of those in the foreign service and praising ambassador stevens. >> there's a broader lesson to be learned for. governor romney has a tendency to shoot first, name later. as president one of the things i've learned is you can't do that. it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them. >> do you think it was i responsible? >> i'll let the american people judge that. >> that was an interview with cbs responding to comments by mitt romney, who had been critical of the nation's response to the region. the president being very blunt in going after the gop nominee. but the president also praising other republicans who he said waited to get all the facts before they spoke and the president essentially suggesting
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that when you have something like this happen it's time to put politics aside. >> but it's never very far behind. dan lothian following the president in las vegas where the president will be doing a little bit of campaigning later today. thanks, dan. >> and we'll have much more on the up roar of what's going on involving mitt romney's blast against the president. was it a mistake? i'll ask romney's foreign policy advis adviser.
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the protests were sparked by an amateur american film insulting the muslim prophet muhammad. the embassy put out a statement says it condemns the efforts to hurt the religious feelings of muslims as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. the ambassador there says she didn't approve the statement, and the white house dise vowed it, but mitt romney went on the offensive quickly. >> it's never too early for the united states government to condemn attacks on americans and to defend our values. the white house distanced itself last night from the statement saying it wasn't cleared by washington. that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world. >> let's talk about all of this with romney campaign policy adviser.
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former democratic congressman robert wexler who supports president obama, he's joining us here. let me start with you and ask the question, why did mitt romney double down on the controversial statement that the campaign released last night? doubled down this morning even before we heard from the president of the united states? >> well, a few things, wolf, i think we all feel tremendous sense of loss at the killing of ambassador stevens. you've dealt with many career foreign service officers and ambassadors, so have i. they don't get as much attention, but they're often right in the heat and the heart of the battle. this is another tragic example of that. as it relates to events over the last couple of days, you know, just a reminder, wolf, of the chaos that a lot of the policies of this administration have showed. chaos in the arab spring. chaos where allies in israel feel they can't rely on us. you saw the flare up with israel
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and the president. and as a policy matter, governor romney issued a statement. he was critical of a statement that was put out by the administration. the administration let hours and hours and hours go by before they corrected the statement that had come from their administering. finally late last night they did correct it. that disavowed it, much like governor romney criticized it. but his overall critique of what the events over the last couple of days represent, what they're sympt sympt symptomatic of have not changed. >> the statement was issued even before there was any violence, significant violence, apparently going on at the embassy. and yet this morning after everyone knew that the state department disavowed it, the administration disavowed it, governor romney came out and once again reiterated that
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condemnation. >> first of all, wolf, you you have covered the state department. egypt the largest country this the middle east and the arab world. our embassy there is one of the largest in the world. certainly the largest in the region. the embassy in cairo works very closely with the division at our state department and closely tied up. if there was a breakdown in communication between the state department and the embassy, that's certainly disappointing and adds to mixed messages. that was not corrected until very late last night, and to be clear, just what a breakdown in communication there must have been then, because the embassy reissued the statement in social media networks after the violence. they issued the statement last night. >> let me let robert weather conditions -- let me let robert wexler respond.
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>> he is missing the point. the point is the death of our ambassador and three other americans amounted to a national tragedy. and one of the great things about america is during -- >> if you're going to talk to dan, look into that camera right there. one of the great things about hour country, dan, is that during a national tragedy we come together. we unit. you speak about mixed messages? there is no worse mixed message than when a major presidential candidate in the middle -- actually at the beginning begins to create partisan divide. when an american ambassador is killed, when three americans are killed doing their jobs overseas, the time is to unite. you have plenty of time to question whatever you want about the president's policies in libya and the middle east and the broad spectrum. but when we still don't know the facts to do that kind of partisan attacks, i think respectfully creates the ultimate mixed message to the
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people outside that embassy. those are the ones that you should be focused on. and that's what president obama did today at the white house. >> you know, congressman wexler, we have two separate issues here. one is we do have a national security crisis. and it's true we need to unite to find a solution to it. it won't be easy because we have a real mess on our hands. in part because of the policies of president obama over the last several years in the region. but to say that in the context of a presidential campaign, our democracy cannot have a conversation about the right course is not only inconsistent with decades, not centuries of the history of our democratic tradition, but it's inconsistent with the way you carried on in 2008. the consistency in which you as a surrogate for president obama criticized every day our policy
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in iraq while american fighting men and women were on the the front line. i may have respectfully disagreed with you on the issues but i respected your rights to weigh in and criticize the policies of president bush and criticize the policies of senator mccain. 1980, 1979 many of the same critics said ronald reagan could not criticize jimmy carter's policies while hostages were in the embassy. we could unite behind the country and stand behind a pursuit to the crisis but still recognize it in the best spirit of our country's tradition to have this conversation about what policies work and what policies don't. and th all due respect, it's not up to you or president obama to decide when our political leaders across the political spectrum can weigh in with our points of view. there's nothing -- >> actually -- >> the president disavowed the statement that the governor was criticizing. >> dan, governor romney accused the president of the united
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states of sympathizing with the attackers on the american embassies. that's not a discussion about policy? with all due respect, that is the most striking partisan attack you can possibly level. last not -- >> so now you have a problem with the content of the statement. a moment ago you said that he shouldn't speak at all. now you can say that it was okay for him to speak. just didn't like the words he chose. >> no, that's not what i said, dan. what i said -- >> do you think it was appropriate for him to weigh in on this issue when he has a serious criticism of the policies that have contributed to the mess that we are seeing. the americans today are seeing a mess on their television screens. it's unleashing throughout the middle east. iran is getting close to a nuke rar weapons capability. tens of thousands of people are dead in syria. the streets are up in flames. >> and if you think, dan, for one second -- >> the israeli prime minister feels he cannot trust and standby the american president and you say that the need for a
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major party can't weigh in. >> i'm not saying he can't weigh in. but if you think the republican nominee accusing the president of the united states of sympathizing with the terrorists who attacked our embassies is in any way constructive in terms of what our men and women on the ground need to do, you are sadly mistaken. that is not the way in which you lead the world's single military power. >> the embassy statement criticized the bigotry of somehow explicitly if not implicitly responsible for the violence that was unleashed against our diplomatic folks in congress. >> dan, the president -- >> let me finish my point, rob. i let you finish. the statement that came out of the administering yesterday, and that was reissued in social media networks after the violence, blamed, criticized, the quote/unkwoelt bigotry for being bigotry in the united
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states for being responsible for the violence. that's what governor romney was speaking out against. that's what he was criticizing. the idea that americans are responsible. american bigotry is responsible for that violence. and the president himself finally it took nine or ten hours, but the president himself disavowed the statement that the governor was criticizing, too. so your problem it sounds like now, congressman, is not with governor romney. your problem now is with president obama. because he himself disavowed the same statement. >> let's jump in real quick. i want to ask because you're talking about governor romney politicizing this. and we've heard that criticism a lot, robert. but what do you think president obama is heading to las vegas to hold a rally. he's campaigning today. do you think he should have canceled the event? as you said, this is a national tragedy. should he be campaigning on the same day? >> the president had a very somber press conference with secretary clinton. he's handled the tragedy for the past 24 hours and now he's
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moving on with his schedule. no one is suggesting that time should stop. but before the facts are known, and wolf said it quite well. governor romney made the statement last night and doubled down this morning, even knowing that the ambassador was killed. even knowing that remarks suggesting, claiming that the president of the united states somehow sympathized with the terrorists who attacked the embassies, that's where i believe most americans will say he crossed the line. >> i'll give you one final thought. ten seconds. >> i would just say it's sad that we're bogg eged down in progress. parsing the different things governor romney said in the statement. here's a bigger question. do you think the president's policy in the middle east has been a success. it looks like a disaster to most americans. >> the president's policy in iraq has been quite successful. he's gotten us out of -- >> what about iran? what about syria?
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what about israel? >> you asked the question. let me answer it. he's implemented the strictest, most comprehensive set of sanctions with respect to iran. iran's power is on the decrease as opposed to the increase which it was when -- >> why is there a crisis in the relation between the israeli government and the united states over the last -- >> there is no crisis in the relationship. what president obama has did down a very strict set of standards, red lines. >> do you think our allies in the region -- >> hold on. unfortunately we got to take a break. we're all out of time. but you know what, this is the second time the two of you have been here in "the situation room." and we're going to invite both of you back to continue this conversation. we didn't really even get into some of the stuff that we wanted to discuss, including this. all right. standby, guys.
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thanks very, very much. we'll continue this down the road. >> much more to discuss, obviously. >> the libyan ambassador to the united states is also here. here's standing by live. we'll talk to him about what happened in benghazi. every time a local business opens its doors, or makes another sale, or hires another employee, it's not just good for business. it's good for the entire community.
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president obama is vowing the united states will find the people who attacked the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya, vowing justice on the attack of killing the u.s. ambassador of the country along with three other americans as we've been talking about. >> finding them will require cooperation from libya. let's talk about that and more
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with the ambassador of the united states. thanks very much for coming in. do you know who was responsible for killing these four americans? >> no. >> do you know which group was responsible? >> it could be a terrorist group. it could be some of gadhafi's association. it could be al qaeda. but at the present time it's very early to decide. >> what are you doing to find these individuals? >> well, when cars exploded in the streets, we are able to capture the people and find out they have a link. and this is a very good sign that it has stopped working. >> ambassador, this tragedy has a lot of people wondering gadhafi has been gone for almost a year now. can you definitely say that the libyan government has things under control? fran townsend said earlier when she was there a couple of weeks ago that it seems very chaotic.
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>> well, it is not under control completely. but 42 years of dictatorship with no institution, with no police forces, with no army, that we started from zero. and we went through eight months of fighting. and of course, now today, the first election of the prime minister. and this is a history in the making. but i'm sure we cannot go by ourselves. america has stood with us in the time of war. you have to stand with us in the time of peace. you have to support this government. and the statement by secretary clinton that they are in the same direction. we have to work together. we have to stop this incident, serious incident.
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and it's damaged the reputation of the support from the beginning. >> some people have suggested, mr. ambassador, there were warning signs that something like this could happen. so i asked, was there no libyan military or police protection of the u.s. diplomatic compound in benghazi or the u.s. embassy, for that matter, in tripoli? >> well, there are. >> as a host country, you're responsible. >> yes, it is our responsibility. we have to protect the diplomat. we have to protect the citizens on our soil. and we have to attract those in libya to develop the country. but we went through some of them in the revolution. i'm sure after we receive the new trainee who is now in jordan and turkey. and with the support of the united states and the western countries, we have to work very hard. but it's not the end of the world.
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the libyan people, all of them, they are against what is happening. and this is a very small number of people who are responsible for that. >> and ambassador, you knew chris stevens personally. get the final thought on the work that he has done for your country. >> this is for more than six years. i know him when he was a diplomat at nbc in tripoli. i knew him when he went to libya after the revolution. he committed to the revolution. he comes to the house mostly weekends and we go together in one car to play tennis. and then we come back to the house to have breakfast. we ask him about the relation. we lost him as a friend, as a man who stands by us and the revolution. >> that's a great, great diplomat and a good friend.
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our deepest condolences. i know you were very close to him. thank you for joining us. cnn has just been able to make contact with the stepfather of the slain united states ambassador, chris stevens. i'm going to speak with him exclusively when we come back. but she loved it so much... i told her it was homemade. everyone tells a little white lie now and then. but now she wants my recipe [ clears his throat ] [ softly ] she's right behind me isn't she? [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. [ clears his throat ] [ softly ] she's right behind me isn't she? and every day since, two years ago, the people of bp made a commitment to the gulf. we've worked hard to keep it. bp has paid over twenty-three billion dollars to help people and businesses who were affected, and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open for everyone to enjoy -- and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. we've shared what we've learned with governments and across the industry so we can all produce energy more safely. i want you to know, there's another commitment bp takes just as seriously: our commitment to america. bp supports nearly two-hundred-fifty thousand jobs
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we have been relatively quiet in cairo until this. these are live pictures you're seeing coming out of cairo right now. not far from the u.s. embassy in cairo. protesters now starting fires and they're moving from the embassy area towards tahrir square, which all of us are familiar with, what was going on in egypt during the revolution,
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the overthrow of hosni mubarak. but it looks like the violence coming back 24 hours after protesters stormed the embassy, went over those 50-foot wall, got inside, started burning down the american flag and replacing them with a black banner, involving some stupid film produced here in the united states. egyptian authorities are now on the scene. they've launched tear gas to try to repel some of these protesters. i don't know exactly, we're just beginning to get information about what's going on. a very, very disturbing development in the egyptian capital where it's now approaching 2:00 a.m. in the morning over there. so it's in the middle of the night, but the protests obviously continuing right now. we're staying on top of this story. once again, these are live pictures comeing in from cairo t
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the u.s. embassy. this is one of the largest u.s. embassies, diplomatic missions in the world. until the embassy of baghdad was built and until that embassy became huge in baghdad. the libyan ambassador is here with kate. when you see these pictures and you've been to cairo many times, what do you say? what's going on right now? we thought the arab spring was going to lead to a peaceful movement, but it looks like the situation in your country as well as in egypt could get out of control. >> i'm really sad to see this development in egypt and my country. unfortunately, maybe some reasons behind that, but this is never justified what's happening in libya over what's happening in any other place. there are democratic ways and going point of view. we have to be civilized. we have to express our position in the right way. but nobody can justify what's
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happening in libya of course, at all. >> what do you say to the american people who see this, but at the same time, watching for the past two days or past day, what all of the pictures coming in, feel a great disappointment in the fact that the united states helped and got involved in the arab spring and pro democracy efforts. what do you say to the american people about this? >> well, it's very sad and very difficult sometimes to explain this kind of incident which is happening now with really appreciate and love what america did for us. and libya and i think when we still optimistic and still have that -- >> are you optimistic? >> yeah, yeah. >> mr. ambassador, as we show these pictures, i want to bring in now the stepfather of the slain u.s. ambassador, christopher stevens. our deepest, deepest condolences to you, robert.
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when you see what's going on right now, obviously you loved your stepson, give us a thought or two about what's going on with your family and how you're dealing with all of this. >> it's a terrible shock at 11:00 last night. we happen to have been in yosimite and rushed home without any sleep. we're shattered. chris was a beautifully even tempered person and the 36 years that i was privileged to be his stepfather, i never saw him lose his temper once and he was calm and easy and people loved him not only for that, but because he didn't impose his ideas on them. and he was interested in the person that he was talking to. and so, it was lovely. he was a joyous person. >> and he loved the libyan people. he loved working there.
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he thought he was really doing something, didn't he? >> i was really pleased and so surprised because he was in tripoli before the rebellion and then in ben gghazi for six mont as u.s. envoy to the rebels and when he was sent back to tripoli as ambassador, he was very happy about it. he wasn't looking for a soft touch. he loved the libyan people and was passionate about helping. >> and the libyan ambassador of the united states, very quickly, mr. ambassador, just wants to express his condolences. >> my apology, my deep condolence to you and your family. brother to me, champion in the eyes of the libyan people. the man who stand by the revolution. >> and our deepest condolences,
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robert, as well. for everything that ambassador stevens did for the american people. mr. ambassador, thanks to you as well. that's it for us. our continuing coverage of what's going on, will resume when we come back. i was talking to my best friend. i told her i wasn't feeling like myself... i had pain in my pelvic area... and bleeding that wasn't normal for me. she said i had to go to the doctor. turned out i had uterine cancer, a type of gynecologic cancer. i received treatment and we're confident i'll be fine. please listen to your body.
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